What I’m Not Telling You

Okay, so I have a confession. It is time for full disclosure and please, I expect you all to berate me for this one.

See, my sister is starting college today. But the deadline to pay her tuition so she could take her classes was last week. I hadn’t received any money from her mom or our dad (she’s my half sister). So I put her tuition for this semester on my credit card.

I chose an installment plan that I had to put $300 upfront (I then repayed this back with the $330 that I had remaining from my yearly savings fund). Then they charged me $700 on each of the 3rd of January, February and March.

The next semester tuition will be due in April.

I have wanted to pay (or help pay) my sister’s tuition. That was part of the impetus for me to get debt free. She just ended up going to college a half year earlier than I was anticipating and getting out of debt (because of my move) has been pushed back a year longer than I expected.

Here is the issue: she’s 17, neither of her parents have residency in Kansas, so she has a choice of either paying in state tuition (using my address) OR getting financial aide (she’ll have to use her parent’s address). Since she’s going to a community college, the in state tuition is most likely cheaper than the amount of financial aide she’ll be able to get that isn’t loan.

So until she is 18 (a year from now) we won’t be filing for financial aide.

She does however qualify for a merit based scholarship after this semester is over that if she gets would cover her entire tuition + $10 in cash for every credit hour she enrolls in. Trust me, I’ll be making sure she applies for this scholarship. I think she’ll be very competitive with it as well.

Okay, so before you think I’ve run off the deep end getting myself in to all kinds of debt, you should know that my dad was FURIOUS when he found out that I put her tuition on my credit card. (I’m sorry Dad, but you knew when her tuition was due, why didn’t YOU pay it?) Anyway, he plans on sending me $500/month to help pay for her tuition, books, living expenses, ect. This will MORE than help out if he does this and keeps up with it.

Also, the plan is that my sister will get a job soon and start saving money to help pay for her food, toiletries, books and part of her tuition starting in the summer.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know – there is also the added problem that my barely 17 year old sister wants to drop out of college and move to Arizona with her BF because she thinks that is “financially more responsible”. She doesn’t want to feel “indebted” to anyone. While I want to scream at her and say “THIS IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF YOUR LIFE IF YOU DO THIS!!”

I have convinced her to stay until the end of the semester. Asked her to work out a budget for how much she would need to spend on rent, food, car, insurance, cell phone, etc. I may be able to use the power of “you’re not 18” to keep her here through the Fall semester. Then, I can only hope and pray the power of “they break up between now and then” or “you only have 1 more semester to finish your AA here” will keep her around until she transfers to a 4-year school. At which point if she wants to move in with her BF I can’t stop her and at least I’ll have done everything I can to make sure she has a strong educational foundation. What she does with it – well – that’s her business at that point.

Okay… so there it is… expect my debt number to go up on my sidebar. But know this is because of my sister’s tuition and I should be getting most of it back  (without interest of course).

(Also, knowing that I’m putting money on my card during this time is one of the reasons why I haven’t been 100% in to pulling my money out of my retirement to pay debt. It seems silly to stop saving for retirement to pay down a debt that is actively increasing at this time.)

21 thoughts on “What I’m Not Telling You

  1. Wow! I think you are an awesome sister. I hope your Dad and her mom pay the money soon. And more importantly, I hope she decides to stay and complete her 4 year degree. I had this friend who decided to take a break between high school and college and she’s still not done with her degree (she is 28!)
    I know it’s not good to put anything on a credit card, but you are doing this to give an academic foundation for your sister and I think it’s a good thing.

  2. Interestingly, most Canadian universities won’t allow you to put your tuition on your credit card. Although you could theoretically do a cash advance (ouch!) and then pay it like that.

    1. I’m not sure how other schools do it, but community colleges are pretty good about taking Visa and Mastercard if it goes through. They don’t care how they get their money as long as they get it. =)

    2. I’m not sure about other universities, but I was able to pay my tuition for my M.Ed (at an Ontario university) with my VISA.

    1. No, she doesn’t. We’re waiting for her mom to send her passport and birth certificate. Once she has that she’ll be able to get a job/open a bank account/etc.

  3. I think you’re a wonderful big sister. Honestly, this post reminds me a lot of me and my sister. I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 25, and my baby sis is also 17. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her and it sounds like you feel the same way about your sister. Keep telling her how important school is and that you want to support her in every way possible… hopefully she sticks with it 🙂

  4. Even if she doesn’t take the opportunity you are offering her this time around, you are modeling behavior for when she is ready. My little brother is an alcoholic and an addict, so I know how painful it is to watch your younger sibling make terrible decisions. However, even though all my advice and help seemed at the time to be water off a duck’s back, several years after he got sober I found out that it acutully was helpful for him when he decided how his life would look after sobriety (He will graduate with his underrgraduate degree in May). So there is hope, even if she heads off to AZ in the short term.

    1. Well, she’s signed up for classes currently and today was her first day. So far she loves all her professors – so that is a really good sign moving forward. I keep talking like she’ll be taking classes in the summer so I really hope she’ll meet people here, get a social life going, and want to stay here until she’s finished with her two year degree.

      I’m glad that your brother is now sober. That is a hard battle to fight and I’m glad he had you as a positive influence in his life. =)

  5. whereas I can understand her wanting to feel not indebted to anyone… You need to seriously smack the girl upside the head. How does she think as a barely 17 year old without a college degree with her bf in another state is supposed to provide for herself? So instead of getting an education, she rather leech off her bf then until she finds a job? it’s just crazy talk. i hope she listens to you.

  6. I can understand wanting to help your sister. My sister has lived with me off and on because I want to help her out- 2.5 years for her AA and then she moved back in for 9 months after she graduated with her bachelor’s while she moved back to our city and got settled with her new job.

    The credit card thing sucks at this point- but you made a commitment and this was the only option available to you at the time. i don’t know if this is an option but we found a great card and did a balance transfer at a lower rate- we pay 2% for the life of the balance transfer as long as we make the minimum payment. Better rate than any loan we could have gotten.

    Also- I’m not sure how old you are or into you would be- but I get most of my families toiletries for nearly free by playing the Drugstore games and using coupons. It is a great way to save money- it takes a little time but there are some great blogs out there like http://www.littlepeoplewealth.com and http://www.pennypinchinmom.com.

    Good luck to you and your sister(even though it is hard to watch them make decisions that DON”T seem right at the time- Trust me I know!!)! It was a lot of fun having my sister be my roomie before I got married. After I got married a little more complicated. And nice again after I had kids (I could run out with my hubby for a quick store run without lugging the kids with us!).

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